The holdout – photographing sea stacks at Samuel Boardman State Park (Oregon)

I don’t often get an opportunity to photograph Oregon’s beautiful southern coast, so when my crowded schedule cleared a bit earlier this week I seized the moment and made the long drive. Known for its numerous state parks and its indefatigable sea stacks, the southern Oregon coast is a seascape photographer’s playground.

During the light of day, the dirt trails that cut through Samuel Boardman State Park are safe enough, if you pick your route carefully, can avoid tripping over exposed tree roots, and have shoes with good enough grip to avoid dirt-skiing down a hill and launching into the churning ocean.

But as is often the case, at night the coast’s hidden coves and thickly wooded trails turn inky black and shadows become impenetrable. The speed of foot travel becomes highly dependent upon the luminosity of your headlamp, and some scrambling, including climbing ladder-like tree roots upward, is required. And if you’re like me, occasionally, when you shut off your headlamp and wait for your camera’s long exposure, you’ll wobble and gyrate in the dark, feet rooted in place to ensure that you don’t take an ill-fated step in the wrong direction in an effort to check your balance.

In other words, this isn’t a place to visit with someone you even remotely suspect of harboring a grudge against you. Luckily for me, I was joined by Matt Newman, a talented southern Oregon photographer who had a little more experience with Samuel Boardman’s trails than I had and was willing to show me around a bit.

Technical details:

This is a blend of three images all taken in low-light conditions. The first was a very long exposure taken half an hour post-sunset with a neutral density filter to ensure that a certain amount of natural long-exposure saturation occurred in the twilight sky. The second was taken just a few minutes later without an ND filter to ensure that some of the darker areas of the photo had adequate shadow detail. The third exposure was taken just for the stars.

Breaking waves sound like thunder as the sun sets on a misty evening in Oregon's Samuel Boardman State Park.

Breaking waves sound like thunder as the sun sets on a misty evening in Oregon’s Samuel Boardman State Park. Click the photo for full size. Prints available here.


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